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The Dangers of Peace

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The Fight over Books in English in Postwar Europe

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In 1945, publishers in Western Europe looked forward to an era free of censorship and press restrictions enacted during Nazi occupation. Yet the postwar peace offered existential challenges, ones that can be seen in the efforts of the Dutch publisher Sijthoff to form a partnership with the Albatross Press, known as continental Europe’s largest publisher of English-language paperbacks in the 1930s. Both firms imagined a future bright with possibility in the late 1940s, selling English books in a free continental market hungry for Anglo-American literature. Yet postwar Europe presented them with a world of paper shortages, governmental regulations, and upstart American publishers eager to flood Europe with cheap paperbacks. Ironically, it wasn’t war, but the peace that would pose the greatest existential threat to Sijthoff, Albatross, and Western Europe’s other continental publishers of books in English.

Affiliations: 1: Hillyer College, University of Hartford West Hartford, ctUSA


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